How to deal with negative thoughts by using cognitive reframing. Cognitive reframing is a way to put distorted, negative thoughts into perspective. The majority of our thoughts are negative and can be untrue or unrealistic. After we identify these thoughts, then we apply cognitive reframing. The result of flipping the script is a healthier, realistic thought. Positivity is typically a biproduct of having more helpful thoughts.
4 steps to dealing with negative thoughts
1. Recognize that you are having a negative thought.
2. Identify what triggered the thought or emotion. Check to see if the negative thought is distorted. Are you ignoring, minimizing, exaggerating, etc.?
3. Challenge your thinking. Where is the proof? Are your thoughts definitely accurate? Can you find other explanations?
4. Reframe it, so that your thoughts are no longer negative, personal, permanent, and pervasive.
The first set of sentences are examples of “all-or-nothing” and “black-and-white” thoughts. These thoughts are called cognitive distortions or distorted thinking. It is a faulty way of thinking. Learn about the 12 types of cognitive distortions here. The second set of examples is the reframing.
▪︎ “I HAVE to have ___, ___, and ___ happen today, otherwise the day is ruined.”
▪︎ “If I don’t get this job, everything that I’ve worked so hard for goes right out the window!”
▪︎ “My life depends on ___.”
▪︎ “I can choose to not allow my day to be ruined. Instead, I can remain hopeful and hold my head high because this isn’t the end, it’s a bump in the road. I can move on knowing that I did the best that I can.”
▪︎ “I may or may not get the job that I’ve been working hard towards, but there will be other opportunities and new doors will open. I did learn more from this experience.”
▪︎ “What I’m going through is temporary and in time, things change.”
Practice and be patient
Be patient with yourself as you practice catching negative thoughts and flipping the script. Remember, that thoughts are just thoughts, they aren’t facts. People learn this skill at different paces; I’ve worked with people who were already using cognitive reframing and they didn’t know it! I’ve also worked with people who really had to pause and think through their thought. Lastly, there are people who have difficulty catching when they have a negative thought. Which ever situation you’re in, keep practicing and be patient!